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Ethics Versus Morals Analysis Philosophy Essay
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Nov 28th, 2019

Ethics Versus Morals Analysis Philosophy Essay

Morality and ethics are terms often used as if they have the same meaning. At other times, they are used as if they have no relationship to one another. I think most people realize ethics and morality have something to do with the concepts of good and bad. The word “morality” has been co-opted by groups, such as the Moral Majority, making us think morality only deals with acts these religious groups think aren’t proper, or are therefore immoral. If you ask people to define “immoral,” generally they will give an answer that has to do with sex.

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The meanings of the terms “ethics” and “morality” can be differentiated based on their origins in ancient Greek and Latin, respectively. We know that the foundations of Western philosophy came from the ancient Greeks. Thus, if one were to use a single term to describe the Greeks, it would be “philosophers.”

Definition:

Ethics -defined as, “inquiry into the nature and grounds of morality where the term morality is taken to moral judgements, standards and rules of conduct.

The American Heritage Dictionary offers the definition of ethics:

“The study of the general nature of morals and of specific moral choices; moral philosophy; and the rules or standards governing the conduct of the members of a profession.”

Morals -refers in particular to the principles or rules that people use to decide what is right or wrong.

What’s the distinction?

“Ethics is the philosophical study of morality. The word is also commonly used interchangeably with ‘morality’ to mean the subject matter of this study; and sometimes it is used more narrowly to mean the moral principles of a particular tradition, group, or individual. Christian ethics and Albert Schweitzer’s ethics are examples.”

— John Deigh in Robert Audi (ed), The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 1995

My own comment:

Often the word “moral” purports to describe something as if there were a fact of the matter. As if “murder is wrong” were the same sort of claim as “snow is white”.

In this sort of usage, the ethical needn’t be the factual. It might be unethical (that is, a breach of a particular code) for doctors to sleep with their patients; but it’s possible that there are circumstances where no one would call it immoral.

What is ethics?

The word itself is sometimes used to refer to the set of rules, principles, or ways of thinking that guide, or claim authority to guide, the actions of a particular group; and sometimes it stands for the systematic study of reasoning about how we ought to act. In the first of these senses, we may ask about the sexual ethics of the people of the Trobriand Islands, or speak about the way in which medical ethics in The Netherlands has come to accept voluntary euthanasia. In the second sense, ‘ethics’ is the name of a field of study, and often of a subject taught in university departments of philosophy…

The difference between ethicsand moralscan seem somewhat arbitrary to many, but there is a basic, albeit subtle, difference. Moralsdefine personal character, while ethicsstress a social system in which those moralsare applied. In other words, ethicspoint to standards or codes of behavior expected by the group to which the individual belongs. This could be national ethics, social ethics, company ethics, professional ethics, or even family ethics. So while a person’s moral code is usually unchanging, the ethicshe or she practices can be other-dependent.

When considering the difference between ethicsand morals, it may be helpful to consider a criminal defense lawyer. Though the lawyer’s personal moral code likely finds murder immoral and reprehensible, ethicsdemand the accused client be defended as vigorously as possible, even when the lawyer knows the party is guilty and that a freed defendantwould potentially lead to more crime. Legal ethicsmust override personal moralsfor the greater good of upholding a justice system in which the accused are given a fair trial and the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The prosecution and court must also deal with the difference between ethicsand morals. In some cases past actions of the accused might resonate with the current charge, but are kept out of evidence so as not to prejudice the jury. In a sense, the prosecutor “lies by omission” in representing the case, never revealing the prejudicial evidence. The same prosecutor, however, would likely find it reprehensible to fail to tell a friend if her date had a potentially dangerous or suspect history.

Another area in which ethicsand moralscan clash is at the workplace where company ethicscan play against personal morality. Corporate greed that blurs its own ethical lines coupled with unreasonable demands on time can lead to having to chose between a stressful, demanding and consuming work ethic, and family obligations seen as moral obligations to spouse and children. Conversely, people lose jobs every day because of poor personal morals, employee theft being a common reason for dismissal.

In society, we are all faced with the butting heads of ethicsand morals. Abortion is legal and therefore medically ethical, while many people find it personally immoral. Fundamentalists, extremists, and even mainstream theists all have different ideas about morality that impact each of our lives, even if indirectly through social pressures or legal discrimination.

In this context, ethical doesn’t just mean legal. For example, an action may not necessarily be illegal but only socially unacceptable, to be considered unethical.

I think the main difference is that ethics is dictated by what others think and their standards. Morals and ethics are the bases of good standards that the rich and powerful benefits.

Ethics originates in the individual, an inner authority, as thediscernment between right and wrong; morals originate from an outer authority-usually a cultural authority whether religious or national.

An ethical parable:

Two disciples meet with their master for the next lesson. The master hands each a chicken and says, “Go kill the chicken where no one will see.” One comes back an hour later with a dead chicken. Two days later, the other disciple returns with the chicken still alive. When asked what happened, he replied, “Wherever I go, the chicken sees.”

It would be a mistake to avoid a distinction between these two clearly related but differing concepts, morals and ethics are the basis of good standards.

Also,” A Moral man does not steal because it goes against his own beliefs.” This makes even morality seem like a relative concept if it’s only the individual’s beliefs rather than being based upon an absolute standard.

I don’t see that, under this definition or interpretation, ethics has any meaning of its own but is simply a synonym for legality.

Seems like a rather arbitrary definition to me unless anyone saying that ethics are relative whereas morality is absolute. In that case I’d be more concerned with my moral behaviour than ethics.

Etymology is of secondary importance. The article accurately describes how moral philosophers use the term today, which is the important thing.

I think it would be more along the lines of: A Moral man does not steal because it goes against his own beliefs, whereas an ethical man simply wouldn’t steal because it’s against the law.

In layman’s terms: An ethical man knows not to cheat on his woman; whereas a moral man simply wouldn’t.

Ethic is derived from the Greek: “Ethos,” meaning character or personal disposition while the word moral is derived from the Latin “Mos,” meaning custom. Therefore it should be argued that ethics are the individual’s ability to determine between right and wrong while morals are the societal values collectively.

Morals are something an individual defines as wrong, such as Person A thinking it is morally wrong to cheat another person, while Person B may think that it’s just fine for various reasons. By Person A’s standards, the cheat is immoral, but by Person B’s standards, the cheat hasn’t done anything wrong.By example: An ethical person knows and understands why stealing is wrong. A moral man does not steal.

The case of homosexuality, many believe it is morally wrong, yet some of the same people also believe it is unethical to discriminate legally against a group of people by disallowing them the same rights afforded heterosexuals. This is a plain example of ethicsand moralsat battle. Ethicsand moralsare central issues as the world strives to overcome current challenges and international crossroads. Hopefully, in the coming years, a growing understanding will lead to peaceful and productive solutions.

A. Descriptive Ethics orMorals: a study of human behavior as a consequence of beliefs about what is right or wrong, or good or bad, insofar as that behavior is useful or effective. In a sense, morals is the study of what is thought to be right and what is generally done by a group, society, or a culture. In general, morals correspond to what actually is done in a society.

1. Morals is best studied as psychology, sociology, or anthropology. Different societies have different moral codes.

2. Morals is a descriptive science; it seeks to establish “what is true” in a society or group.

3. Often morals are considered to be the shared ideals of a group, irrespective of whether they are practiced.

4. In the sense of descriptive ethics or morals, different persons, groups, and societies have different moral standards. This observation is seen as true by all sides.

a. We would commit the fallacy of equivocationto conclude from this observation that there is no universal ethical(q.v., below under I, B) standard.

What is the Difference Between Ethics and Morals?

The difference between ethicsand moralscan seem somewhat arbitrary to many, but there is a basic, albeit subtle, difference. Moralsdefine personal character, while ethicsstress a social system in which those moralsare applied. In other words, ethicspoint to standards or codes of behavior expected by the group to which the individual belongs. This could be national ethics, social ethics, company ethics, professional ethics, or even family ethics. So while a person’s moral code is usually unchanging, the ethicshe or she practices can be other-dependent.

When considering the difference between ethicsand morals, it may be helpful to consider a criminal defense lawyer. Though the lawyer’s personal moral code likely finds murder immoral and reprehensible, ethicsdemand the accused client be defended as vigorously as possible, even when the lawyer knows the party is guilty and that a freed defendantwould potentially lead to more crime. Legal ethicsmust override personal moralsfor the greater good of upholding a justice system in which the accused are given a fair trial and the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The prosecution and court must also deal with the difference between ethicsand morals. In some cases past actions of the accused might resonate with the current charge, but are kept out of evidence so as not to prejudice the jury. In a sense, the prosecutor “lies by omission” in representing the case, never revealing the prejudicial evidence. The same prosecutor, however, would likely find it reprehensible to fail to tell a friend if her date had a potentially dangerous or suspect history.

Another area in which ethicsand moralscan clash is at the workplace where company ethicscan play against personal morality. Corporate greed that blurs its own ethical lines coupled with unreasonable demands on time can lead to having to chose between a stressful, demanding and consuming work ethic, and family obligations seen as moral obligations to spouse and children. Conversely, people lose jobs every day because of poor personal morals, employee theft being a common reason for dismissal.

In society, we are all faced with the butting heads of ethicsand morals. Abortion is legal and therefore medically ethical, while many people find it personally immoral. Fundamentalists, extremists, and even mainstream theists all have different ideas about morality that impact each of our lives, even if indirectly through social pressures or legal discrimination.

In this context, ethical doesn’t just mean legal. For example, an action may not necessarily be illegal but only socially unacceptable, to be considered unethical.

I think the main difference is that ethics is dictated by what others think and their standards. Morals and ethics are the bases of good standards that the rich and powerful benefits.

Ethics originates in the individual, an inner authority, as thediscernment between right and wrong; morals originate from an outer authority-usually a cultural authority whether religious or national.

An ethical parable:

Two disciples meet with their master for the next lesson. The master hands each a chicken and says, “Go kill the chicken where no one will see.” One comes back an hour later with a dead chicken. Two days later, the other disciple returns with the chicken still alive. When asked what happened, he replied, “Wherever I go, the chicken sees.”

It would be a mistake to avoid a distinction between these two clearly related but differing concepts, morals and ethics are the basis of good standards.

Also,” A Moral man does not steal because it goes against his own beliefs.” This makes even morality seem like a relative concept if it’s only the individual’s beliefs rather than being based upon an absolute standard.

I don’t see that, under this definition or interpretation, ethics has any meaning of its own but is simply a synonym for legality.

Seems like a rather arbitrary definition to me unless anyone saying that ethics are relative whereas morality is absolute. In that case I’d be more concerned with my moral behaviour than ethics.

Etymology is of secondary importance. The article accurately describes how moral philosophers use the term today, which is the important thing.

I think it would be more along the lines of: A Moral man does not steal because it goes against his own beliefs, whereas an ethical man simply wouldn’t steal because it’s against the law.

In layman’s terms: An ethical man knows not to cheat on his woman; whereas a moral man simply wouldn’t.

Ethic is derived from the Greek: “Ethos,” meaning character or personal disposition while the word moral is derived from the Latin “Mos,” meaning custom. Therefore it should be argued that ethics are the individual’s ability to determine between right and wrong while morals are the societal values collectively.

Morals are something an individual defines as wrong, such as Person A thinking it is morally wrong to cheat another person, while Person B may think that it’s just fine for various reasons. By Person A’s standards, the cheat is immoral, but by Person B’s standards, the cheat hasn’t done anything wrong.By example: An ethical person knows and understands why stealing is wrong. A moral man does not steal.

The case of homosexuality, many believe it is morally wrong, yet some of the same people also believe it is unethical to discriminate legally against a group of people by disallowing them the same rights afforded heterosexuals. This is a plain example of ethicsand moralsat battle. Ethicsand moralsare central issues as the world strives to overcome current challenges and international crossroads. Hopefully, in the coming years, a growing understanding will lead to peaceful and productive solutions.

Morals, Ethics, and Metaethics

Abstract: Prescriptive ethics is distinguished from descriptive ethics, and metaethics is characterized.

I. Although different writers use the words “ethics” and “morals” in different senses, in this course we will make the following distinctions in order to help avoid equivocation or these terms in ethical arguments.

A. Descriptive Ethics orMorals: a study of human behavior as a consequence of beliefs about what is right or wrong, or good or bad, insofar as that behavior is useful or effective. In a sense, morals is the study of what is thought to be right and what is generally done by a group, society, or a culture. In general, morals correspond to what actually is done in a society.

1. Morals is best studied as psychology, sociology, or anthropology. Different societies have different moral codes.

2. Morals is a descriptive science; it seeks to establish “what is true” in a society or group.

3. Often morals are considered to be the shared ideals of a group, irrespective of whether they are practiced.

4. In the sense of descriptive ethics or morals, different persons, groups, and societies have different moral standards. This observation is seen as true by all sides.

a. We would commit the fallacy of equivocationto conclude from this observation that there is no universal ethical(q.v., below under I, B) standard.

which seeks to discover how one oughtto act, not how one does in fact act or how one thinks one should act.

1. More specifically, (normative) ethics is the discipline concerned with judgments of setting up norms for …

a. When an act is right or wrong–e.g., is it wrong to liter on campus when we pay someone to pick up the litter.

b. What kinds of things are good or desirable-i.e., is knowledge to be sought for its own sake or is it to be sought for money? Is money to be sought for its own sake or is it to be sought for power? And so on.

c. When a person deserves blame, reward, or neither-e.g., a person who stole your wallet returns it intact two weeks later, how do you judge his actions? What would be appropriate to say or do?

2. From the terms introduced so far, you can see that different things can be meant by the terms: ethical, unethical, moral, immoral, nonmoral, amoral, and nonethical.

E.g., how would you describe the action of a mechanic who throws a tire iron over in a corner after changing a tire? Think about probable consequences both mental and physical.

C. Metaethicsor Analytical Ethics: the discipline concerned with elucidating the meaning of ethical terms or the discipline concerned with the comparison of ethical theories.

1. Metaethics is an analytical inquiry. Metaethics asks, “What is _____?” e.g.,goodness, excellence, right, amoral, and so on.

2. That we ordinarily do not agree on the meaning of common ethical terms can be easily seen by the following quiz.

a. Is the meaning of “ethical concern” clear? Let us define “ethical concern” as describing “an action which can help or harm persons (including ourselves).”

b. Which of the following situations would you look upon as a matter of ethical concern?

1. Slipping an ace from the bottom of the deck in order to win an informal game of cards.

2. Arriving late for ethics class.

3. Jaywalking after looking both ways to make sure it’s clear.

4. Keeping your car washed.

5. Keeping your car in good running condition.

6. Drinking a coke between classes.

7. Doing two hours work for eight hours pay.

8. Attending a boring ethics class.

9. Drinking a beer after a difficult test, if you are over 21 years old.

10. “Borrowing” a pencil or paper in order to take a test.

c. With some thought, it can be easily seen that all these situations have the possibility to help or harm others (including ourselves) and so on this definition would be of ethical concern.

II. Let’s briefly look at a particular example of metaethics: G. E. Moore’s analysis of “good” in Principia Ethica

A. If one can develop a set of principles for distinguishing between good and bad conduct, we must be able to understand what “good” means.

Consider the ten situations above. If we cannot agree on what situations are of ethical concern, then our ethical theory would be worthless.

B. One way to begin the inquiry is to ask what all good things have in common.

1. Moore answers the term “good” cannot be defined in any other terms as, for example, “brother” can be defined as “male sibling.”

2. Moore concludes good is a simple quality, like the color yellow; it cannot be defined in any other terms. If you don’t already know what it means, you cannot explain it to anyone.

3. The Naturalistic Fallacyis, according to Moore, defining an ethical term (prescriptive) in terms of a descriptive equivalent. Compare, for example, the definition of “yellow” with respect to a certain frequency of light. We know what yellow is even though we do not know that it has a frequency, and even if we did know the frequency, it would not be an adequate .

Some writers use the term ‘morality’ for the first, descriptive, sense in which I am using ‘ethics’. They would talk of the morality of the Trobriand islanders when they want to describe what the islanders take to be right or wrong. They would reserve ‘ethics’ (or sometimes ‘moral philosophy’) for the field of study or the subject taught in departments of philosophy. I have not adopted this usage. Both ‘ethics’ and ‘morality’ have their roots in a word for ‘customs’, the former being a derivative of the Greek term from which we get ‘ethos’, and the latter from the Latin root that gives us ‘mores’, a word still used sometimes to describe the customs of a people. ‘Morality’ brings with it a particular, and sometimes inappropriate, resonance today. It suggests a stern set of duties that require us to subordinate our natural desires — and our sexual desires get particular emphasis here — in order to obey the moral law. A failure to fulfil our duty brings with it a heavy sense of guilt. Very often, morality is assumed to have a religious basis. These connotations of ‘morality’ are features of a particular conception of ethics, one linked to the Jewish and Christian traditions, rather than an inherent feature of any ethical system.

Ethics has no necessary connection with any particular religion, nor with religion in general.”

— Peter Singer (ed), Ethics, 1994

The Oxford English Dictionary (1989) seems to show that, from the earliest times, the words had very similar meanings.”Ethic” as a noun has the senses “The science of morals” and “A scheme of moral science”, and these are treated as parts (a) and (b) of a single meaning. The earliest citation is from 1387.”Ethics” (in the plural) divides into a number of meanings. The sense of “The science of morals; the department of study concerned with the principles of human duty” dates from 1602. The sense of “The moral principles or system of a particular leaderor school of thought” dates from 1651.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, perhaps, Ethics are something that is defined as wrong by authority, like work ethics and medical ethics. It is ethical, by medical standards, to treat a soldier from another army, even though that man was just trying to kill your teammates, because the Hippocratic Oath says it is ethical. The oath is recognised in society as something that doctors must do, but non-doctors are not required to understand or carry out, either by law or by the Oath.

Morals are something an individual defines as wrong, such as Person A thinking it is morally wrong to cheat another person, while Person B may think that it’s just fine for various reasons. By Person A’s standards, the cheat is immoral, but by Person B’s standards, the cheat hasn’t done anything wrong.By example: An ethical person knows and understands why stealing is wrong. A moral man does not steal.

SOUTHEAST UNIVERSITY

Submitted to- Mahamud Rahat Khan

Lecturer, SEU.

Submitted by- Humayra Islam

ID# 2008210000062

BBA; 20th (B)

Submission date- 26/04/10

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